Three Million Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’

Assume there are only four possible divine attributes:

power
knowledge
freedom
goodness

Each of the above attributes can occur in four degrees:

human
superhuman
perfect
eternally perfect

There can be 14 different combinations of acceptable degrees for each attribute:

Four combinations with just one acceptable degree (e.g. only ‘perfect’ knowledge is acceptable).
Six combinations with just two acceptable degrees (e.g. either ‘superhuman’ or ‘perfect’ knowledge is acceptable)
Three combinations with three acceptable degrees (e.g. either ‘superhuman’ or ‘perfect’ or eternally perfect’ is acceptable).
One combination with all four degrees being acceptable.

For each of the 14 different combinations of acceptable degrees of a given divine attribute, there are three different strengths of logical connection between that specification and the word ‘God’:

criteria
necessary condition but not an essential property
necessary condition and also an essential property

14 x 3 = 42 different possible specifications per divine attribute. Plus, there is also the possibility that an alleged divine attribute is irrelevant to the word ‘God’, so there are a total of 43 different possibilities per attribute in relation to an analysis or definition of the word ‘God’.

Given that there are at least four different divine attributes that can be specified in 43 different ways each, the total number of possible analyses of the word ‘God’ is over three million:

43 x 43 x 43 x 43 = 1,849 x 1,849 = 3,418,801.

Wow. This does not take into account other possible divine attributes, such as being ‘the creator of the universe’, ‘omnipresent’, ‘a source of moral obligation’, and ‘a bodiless person’.

Questions Concerning the Existence of God
Next Year
Interview with Prof. Axgrind
Don’t Criticize What You Can’t Understand
About Stephen Law

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